Bafana’s hopes of reaching the World Cup had suffered a triple hammer blow, after a two defeats to Cape Verde and FIFA’s annulling of their earlier win over Senegal due to the possibility of match-fixing, all of which left them at the bottom of Group D.
And that showed in the stands, with only a couple of thousand supporters turning up at a rainy FNB Stadium.
With little to lose and not much expected, the hosts, aided by a morale-boosting first-minute goal, had little pressure on them and served up exhilarating football, with an end result that the nation has been yearning for.
The result takes Bafana Bafana to four points from four matches and gives them a renewed chance of qualification, although that would likely mean having to beat Senegal both home and away in November.
Head coach Stuart Baxter made several changes to his starting team, including handing a debut to right-back Thamsanqa Mkhize, while the outstanding Percy Tau played as the outright striker supported by Andile Jali.
South Africa were off to the best possible start when Tau put them ahead after only 48 seconds. The Sundowns man’s header from a throw-in hit the post before just about crossing the line, with replays suggesting it was the correct call.
Stung by the early setback, the Stallions came storming back, but apart from Prejuce Nakoulma’s shot, which was deflected away from goal by Clayton Daniels, they were unable to pose much of a goal threat.
Instead Bafana doubled their lead at 33 minutes when some lovely interplay through the middle enabled Themba Zwane to run in on goal, and he made no mistake with a slide-rule finish past keeper Kouakou Koffi at the near post.
It got even better for Baxter’s side when they made it 3-0 in added time in the first half, after a long kick up-field by goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune found Tau, whose sublime back-heel located Sibusiso Vilakazi, who beat the on-rushing Koffi.
Zwane should have added a fourth goal two minutes after half time when he beat several defenders inside the box, only to shank his parting shot wide of the target.
Burkina Faso did have a couple of moments in attack, but they found Khune in solid form as he kept out two efforts from Bertrand Traoré in quick succession.
Then it was Vilakazi’s turn to squander a great scoring chance when he combined with Tau on the hour mark and went clean in on goal, only to dink a chip wide of the left-hand upright.
South Africa’s numbers were reduced to 10 when Bongani Zungu was sent off in the 67th minute after an initial altercation between Burkina Faso captain Charles Kabore and Kamohelo Mokotjo had resulted in a bit of a skirmish, involving nearly all of the players.
While Kaboré seemed to have tried to elbow Mokotjo on several occasions, it was not clear why Zungu was flashed the red card. He could miss both matches against Senegal.
But even with the numerical advantage, the Stallions struggled to create goal-scoring chances and it was from a set-piece that they netted their solitary goal when Alain Traoré struck with a brilliant and unstoppable 87th minute free kick.
Source: African News Agency (ANA)